CalOSHA COVID-19 Emergency Regulation in Effect

  • Dec 03, 2020

The Office of Administrative Law approved the CalOSHA COVID-19 Emergency Regulation as adopted by the CalOSHA Standards Board. The Emergency Regulation is effective immediately. The emergency regulation is a mix of existing requirements found in current CalOSHA guidelines, definitions and requirements from AB 685 (Reyes) and new employer mandates.

Highlights from the emergency regulation are as follows.

Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)

Employers must include COVID-19 information in their IIPPs, including by not limited to:

  • A system by which employees can report COVID-19 symptoms, exposure and possible workplace hazards.
  • A means of identifying COVID-19 hazards by screening employees, responding to COVID positive or exposed employees, and evaluating workplace activities or equipment that could lead to exposure. Employees must be allowed to participate in identifying and evaluating these hazards. Employers are responsible for correcting unsafe and unhealthy conditions and practices.
  • Procedures to investigate and effectively respond to COVID-19 cases and notify those who may have been exposed within one day.
  • Employee training concerning COVID-19 policies and protocols, COVID-19-related benefits available to employees, COVID-19 symptoms and the importance of remaining home when ill.

COVID-19 Protocols

The regulation requires the following:

  • Physical distancing and mask wearing are mandatory, unless they are not possible.
  • Employers must provide masks and ensure they are worn over the nose and mouth when the employee is indoors or outdoors and not socially distanced from others.
  • Face masks are not required if an employee is alone in a room, while eating and socially distanced in an indoor area where outside air is maximized, they are wearing other respiratory protection, cannot wear a mask due to mental/physical health conditions or performing tasks where masks aren’t feasible.
  • If physical distancing is not possible at fixed work locations, solid partitions must be installed.
  • Outside air should be maximized in buildings unless outside air would be hazardous to employees.
  • In employee-provided housing, residents who maintain a household together outside of work must be housed in the same housing unit without others. The same applies for residents who work in the same crew or work together at the same worksite. Employees who do not typically share a household or work together can only be housed in the same unit unless no other housing options are possible.
  • Common areas of housing units must provide enough space for physical distancing, including sleeping areas. Housing units must be effectively cleaned and disinfected daily.
  • Employee-provided transportation should be assigned such that employees residing in the same housing unit or working in the same crew/worksite should be transported in the same vehicle. Physical distancing measures and masks are mandatory. Vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected before each trip and between different drivers. Hand sanitizer must be available. Windows should be kept open and ventilation systems should not recirculate air.

Employee COVID Testing and Reporting

  • If there is a workplace outbreak, employers must provide free COVID-19 testing for all employees who were potentially exposed. They must be tested immediately and then one week later. Testing must continue on a weekly basis until the outbreak has ended.
  • COVID-19 cases must be reported to the local health department as required by law. COVID-19-related serious injuries or deaths in connection with employment must be reported to CalOSHA.
  • Employer must record all employee COVID-19 cases, including last day at the workplace and date of a positive test.
  • Exclusion from the Workplace When COVID Positive or Exposed
  • Employees who test positive or are exposed to COVID must be excluded from the workplace for 14 days, even if they test negative before the 14 days expire.
  • Employer must continue and maintain the employee’s earnings, seniority, rights and benefits while they must remain at home.

COVID Outbreaks at the Workplace

  • If an outbreak occurs, besides testing and employee exclusion (noted above), the employer must conduct an investigation to identify and abate COVID hazards. The review must be updated every 30 days until outbreak ceases.
  • Employer must contact the local health department within 48 hours for guidance and to share outbreak workplace data.
  • If there is a major outbreak (20 or more COVID cases within a 30-day period), employers also must use MERV-13 or higher filters within buildings, determine the need for respiratory protection program and determine whether to halt some or all operations until COVID-19 hazards have been corrected.

Full text of the emergency regulation is available online.

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